With 40 percent of the regular season played, what have we learned about the Minnesota Vikings? They have an explosive offense littered with playmaking athletes who are led by a resurgent quarterback. They have a veteran defense with All-Pro players at every level. And they are deep in several important positions and as of this writing, relatively free from injury.
One of Minnesota’s greatest strengths is their balance. Going into Thursday night’s game against Washington, in average yards allowed, the Vikings are overall sixth in team defense and sixth in team offense. Few teams in the league have that kind of balance. The Vikings lead the NFC in scoring, and defensively in points allowed are third in the conference and sixth overall in the NFL.
Best of all, the Vikings are flying under the radar, eclipsed by the 2019 Darlings of the NFL, the Green Bay Packers: “The Packers have a great defense that currently ranks ninth in points allowed,” gushed NFL.com’s Adam Schein on Tuesday. What Schein didn’t tell his readers is that his darlings Packers are 26th in average yards allowed. Only six teams have worst defenses than Green Bay.
Plus, led by generous officiating (the Packers are running away from the league in beneficiary yards (598) from on-the-field officials), Green Bay also has had three opposition touchdowns taken off the board during games (Minnesota, Denver and Philadelphia). How convenient.
A lot can happen between now and the end of the regular season, but as of today, the NFC North is a two-team race between the Vikings and the Packers. Based on each team’s depth, starting talent and balance, Minnesota will win the division for the third time in the last five seasons.
The schedule favors Minnesota. Going into Thursday’s home game against Washington, the Vikings play six of their last nine games at home. Green Bay, meanwhile, plays six of their last nine games on the road. Both teams have challenging road games remaining: The Vikings travel to Seattle (5-2) on Dec. 2 and Green Bay plays in San Francisco (6-0) on Nov. 24.
And, the Vikings remaining division games are all at home. The Packers only have one of their final three division games at home. Green Bay’s game at Minnesota—Monday night, Dec. 23—will likely decide the NFC North.
The Vikings, and their fans, will be clicking their heels when Christmas arrives.
Roger Dier contributes to Purpleptsd.com.